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Unorthodox female comedy show avoids male bashing


Kresge Auditorium, Last Saturday

Featuring Reno, Diane Amos, Sharon Utley

By David V Rodriguez
Associate Arts Editor

You could count on one hand the number of men at Out For Laughs 96 last Saturday night in Kresge Auditorium. The show, billed as "a wild night of women's comedy" was sponsored by Women's Studies and feminist magazine Sojourner, promised to be unusual for an Institute event. On the way in audience members were handed flyers for a poetry competition and the National Organization of Women. Inside was a mostly older, mostly non-MIT crowd.

The three performing stand-up comedians were Reno, Sharon Utley, and Diane Amos. Utley started off the show, talking about her about her experiences as a woman and lesbian: "A good femme doesn't cook... She orders Pizza Hut." She talked about coming out to her father and brother and being surprised that everyone already knew. Her single prop was a solo sexual aid which she used to give advice to the cast of Waiting to Exhale.

Next was Diane Amos, whose main claim to fame comes from being the Pine-Sol Lady. Although she has been on Starsearch, Comedy Central, and A&E, it's the Pine Sole ads that get her recognition - part of her act recounted getting chased around by old ladies wanting to know if her son in the commercials is really her own. She joked about being raised in a family led by two lesbians, made more complex by one being black and the other being Jewish. Her best bit was an improvised poem on topics the audience suggested: sex and motorcycles.

The last performer, Reno, described her act as "a radical departure from the norm of syntax and sequential, linear thinking," which translates on stage to high-energy rambling. Her style was similar to the old drug-induced bits of Robin Williams, but not as coherent. There were several stretches where nothing she said was intelligible. The audience didn't seem to mind, however, for the delivery was enjoyable. She moved fast in covering everything she could think of, occasionally stumbling into genuinely funny moments.

Overall, the night didn't have the extreme feminist bent that it could have had. As the material evolved naturally from their female perspective, it never became hostile. It probably was a good thing that he men in the audience never felt they were the target of the night's humor.